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In this nightmare of identity theft, Oregon mass murderer Chris Longo (he killed his wife and children) escapes to Mexico where he assumes the identity of his favorite journalist, Michael Finkel, fired from The New York Times Magazine for falsifying facts in an article. After Longo is recaptured and jailed, Finkel gets in touch with him and begins a bizarre relationship. Finkel, as narrator, is matchless, telling all (both his story and Longo's) in an intimate, confidential voice, exposing himself and the killer as a mysterious, egocentric, and not always believable duo. Sometimes the explicit explanations slow the tempo, but Finkel manages to drive the story to a compelling climax.
The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel with a startling piece of news. A young, highly intelligent man named Christian Longo, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for killing his entire family, has recently been captured in Mexico, where he'd taken on a new identity...Michael Finkel of The New York Times.
The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, comes another bit of troubling news: a note, written by the paper's editors, explaining that Finkel has falsified parts of an investigative article and has been fired. This unlikely confluence sets the stage for a bizarre and intense relationship. After Longo's arrest, the only journalist the accused murderer will speak with is the real Michael Finkel. And as the months until Longo's trial tick away, the two men talk for dozens of hours on the telephone, meet in the jailhouse visiting room, and exchange nearly a thousand pages of handwritten letters.
With Longo insisting he can prove his innocence, Finkel strives to uncover what really happened to Longo's family, and his quest becomes less a reporting job than a psychological cat-and-mouse game, sometimes redemptively honest, other times slyly manipulative. Finkel's pursuit pays off only at the end, when Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally says what he wouldn't even admit in court, the whole, true story. Or so it seems.
"This book is absolutely riveting, as much for Finkel's own painful self-examination as for the evasions of an accused murderer." (Booklist) "Astute and hypnotically absorbing....There's a burning sincerity (and beautifully modulated writing) on every page, sufficient to convince most that this brilliant blend of true-crime and memoir does live up to its bald title." (Publishers Weekly)
The story is, yes, disturbing - and for more than one or two reasons. I'll start with myself.
1. I bought it. I cared enough about this s-head to read about why he (meaning both of them) cared about himself enough to ...I don't have enough words or, rather, male pronouns to finish that solipsism. Mainly, I regretted buying it because it ended up being about two guys wondering about themselves for 5 hours. One had become full of himself and done something marginally wrong with grave career repercussions; the other was a psychopath and murdered his family. I was interested in both and now I feel like shooting myself in the head.
2. The writing was not very interesting afterall. Although when you read the description (not mine), it does sound like a v. interesting book, _I_ think it's written so...I don't know. There's so much about the journalist and his great emotions that...wow. Who cares?? Maybe it would've come off better if he hadn't narrated. Maybe it's better in book form. Because the IDEA sounds interesting but...
3. The narrator is SO BAD I got angry with him! Oh...my...word. Please, dear God, let other people narrate your work. It was like listening to a kindergarten teacher reading "Inch Worm". Then he would get this inappropriately excited tone when talking about the dead mom's parents or whatever. Just..he was all over the place. A habitual, unbreakable cadence that was absolutely unlistenable. I know it's harsh. I know. But I wanted, I really did want, to listen to it. But after 2 hours I was actually mad at it. I was mad at a virtual book, at someone's voice I know only binarily! It was that irritating.
Hey - one woman's opinion. Go ahead and buy it. Irritate yourself.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
This is, by far, the worst audiobook that I've encountered. This is the second audiobook that I've purchased that employs the author as the reader and, in both cases, it ruins the story. The story "may" be worth telling but I couldn't get past the awkwardness of the reader -- it was painful. However, I don't believe that the story has much to offer either. This story felt like the author's attempt at an apology for past (journalistic) acts that the average reader couldn't care less about.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
The story is interesting, though I didn't find it spellbinding, but the narration is so bad that it
was hard for me to listen to. I agree with the woman who said it made her angry. Me too! I wanted to yell at him. Oddly stilted speech, lazy pronounciation, and a dramatic intonation at the end of just about every sentence was enough to interfere with the story.
In short bits I found it tolerable.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
The narration was so so. Story was not that great. Character development was very poor.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about True Story? What did you like least?
It's an interesting and well written tale.
Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Finkel’s performances?
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Any additional comments?
It's a shame they didn't get a better narrator.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
In the manner of the great 'true crime' works, but with a twist - the author himself is tightly woven into the story for the fact that the killer, Christian Longo, assumed his identity while on the run.
You won't be able to put this one down.
7 of 9 people found this review helpful
I was not familiar with the story of Christian Longo and Michael Finkle until buying the audible book. Now that I have heard it, I can't forget it. Deeply disturbing because it's true.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
I ended up being rivoted by this story, though I was immediately repulsed by the personalities of the two people the story was about, I suppose this is an indication of how good Finkle is with character development - I think this was his point. It was good to see that the horrific character "Flaws" in one man can bring about change in another...All in all a thought provoking riviting story...
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of True Story to be better than the print version?
Not necessarily. Finkel did a fine job with the narration however his performance didn't add anything exceptional to the story.
What was one of the most memorable moments of True Story?
During the opening statements of the trial the description of the bodies was sickening. I have never felt so disgusted by a book. That being said, I eagerly finished the book.
What does Michael Finkel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
To hear, in his voice, the explanation from his previous firing was interesting.
Any additional comments?
If only this book was a work of fiction. Longo is scum and I felt filthy after listening to his story. I've never had this gut turning reaction to any book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The book was interesting as far as biographies about murderers go. However there was a certain whiny undertone that made you feel like it was just a platform for Michael Finkel to reach as many people as possible to tell HIS story. He compares himself to Longo throughout the book and they definitely are two of a kind with matching narcissistic personality disorders. Only the guy on death row, he whines less.